Infrared Photography and Time of Day

I went to a local park after work this last week to try some infrared photos later in the day.  One of the differences between infrared and visible light is that infrared looks great at midday when the sun is high in the sky.  Visible light is harsh and flat during this time.

Here is a photo I took almost a year ago with my unconverted Canon 6D.

Olympia Brewery - IR, unconverted with 870nm filter, midday

Olympia Brewery – IR, unconverted with 870nm filter, midday

And here’s the one I took the other night with my dedicated infrared Canon 10D.

Olympia Brewery - IR, converted camera 720nm, 6:30pm

Olympia Brewery – IR, converted camera 720nm, 6:30pm

Let me lay out the differences between the shooting and processing of these two photos.

Filter: 1st photo – 50mm lens with B+W 870nm, screw-on filter.  2nd photo -17mm lens (27mm on the APS-C sized sensor Canon 10D) with internal 720nm filter (hot mirror removed).

Time of Day:  1st photo – Foliage blazes white in noon sun.  2nd photo – More directional, evening light at 6:30pm.  You still get white leaves and grass if the sun isn’t too low, and it makes the picture look more 3-dimensional.

Shutter speed: 1st photo – Shutter speeds on the unconverted 6D are very slow at 8 seconds, even with ISO set to 400.  There is also some strange ghosting around the tree tops, clouds, and building roof.  2nd photo – With the converted camera, I didn’t need a tripod at 1/60 of a second, and the photo looks sharper with more detail. Hard to tell if it’s a result of the hot mirror and the filter not fighting each other (as in the first photo) or just a quicker shutter speed.

Processing: 1st photo – An 870nm filter blocks all visible light and is not suitable for color infrared, so this photo was converted the black and white, and tones adjusted in Lightroom.  2nd photo – I only dropped the white balance slider to “cool” as far as it would go.  Then I reduced the saturation a little so the photo wasn’t too orange.

Here’s another pair from the same two shoots:

Tumwater Historical Park - Uncoverted 6D & B+W 093 filter

Tumwater Historical Park – Uncoverted 6D & B+W 093 filter

Tumwater Historical Park - converted Canon 10D, 6:40pm

Tumwater Historical Park – converted Canon 10D, 6:40pm

To make a fair comparison I should have used the same lens, but the 10D is an APS-C, crop-sensor body, and the 6D is full frame, so the same lens has different perspectives on each body anyway.

But what I really want to contrast is the differences time of day make in these photos. Personally, I like both effects, but evening light seems more pleasing to me, even with infrared.  The angle of the light makes a huge difference in the appearance of a scene!

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